Litz brings Local Government, Small Business, and Conservation Experience to the Table.
Jo Ellen is a 5-term Lebanon County Commissioner who is the Boots on the Ground for local government implementing programs to Protect Children, Serve Families, Secure Justice, Manage Emergencies, and Safeguard Elections. In short, Commissioner Litz Safeguards the Public Trust.
Whether it was the 2004 Campbelltown Tornado, Tropical Storm Lee in 2011, or the 30" 2016 Snowstorm Jonas, I've been here for you.
Litz was elected by her peers from across the state of Pennsylvania to serve as the 2012 president and 2013 chairman of the Board for the statewide commissioner's association.
Litz is about starting a conversation from public structures like roads and bridges, water and sewer, schools, and energy. A sound infrastructure is the basis of a sound economy. Litz believes we need these Economy Boosting Jobs to put money into the pockets of people so that they can buy homes, cars, and goods. Litz supports a transportation plan to make our roads and bridges safe. In this way, we will create good paying jobs, get people to these jobs, our goods to market, and children to schools.
Jo Ellen served as the chair of the MPO (2012-15)--Metropolitan Planning Organization for Lebanon County--where she helps to prioritize local road and bridge projects with PennDOT and the Federal Highway Administration.
Keep Litz doing the People's Business.
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Taking Action, Getting Results.
Lebanon PA 17046
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People Above Politics
Team Litz: Treasurer, Cathy Garrison
Honorary Chair: Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll --a woman who broke the glass ceiling and contributed greatly to PA politics; born in 1930, died November 12, 2008.
Lebanon County Commission for Women
Web site paid for by Jo Ellen Litz.
July 14, 2004, an F3 tornado touched down in Campbelltown, Lebanon County PA
Tornado path -7 Y2 miles, ~ wide, 175-200 mph winds Excessive rain, lightning
High winds (other than tornado path)
PEMA, LEMA report:
Photos by Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz
Lebanon County Tornado
By Jo Ellen Litz
On July 14, 2004, around 3PM, an F3 tornado touched down in Campbelltown, Lebanon County PA. A path seven and one half miles long and one-quarter mile wide with wind speeds between 175-200 mph brought with it excessive rain, lightning, hail, and flash flooding. According to the Pennsylvania and Lebanon County Emergency Management Agencies, thirty-seven homes were completely destroyed, thirty-four homes had major damage, another seventy-eight homes had minor damage, and an additional sixty-eight properties were affected with damaged vegetation, trees, and equipment.
Further, the United States Department of Agriculture reported eleven farm buildings were destroyed, fourteen more had major damage, and eleven had minor damage. Five silos were destroyed and one more had major damage. Livestock, including six cattle, two sow pigs, and thirty-one poultry were lost. Including over five hundred acres of destroyed crops, the agricultural damage alone came to over five million dollars.
But the real story is how a community came together to support the victims. Due in part to the time of day that the tornado hit and in part to the fast, professional, coordinated rescue response of local fire companies, police, and emergency management agencies, no lives were lost. There were no turf wars. Initially, each home was searched, and when rescuers were sure that no one was inside, a large “X” was spray painted on the side of the building facing the street. Later, County building code inspectors visited homes again. This time, they used their expertise to determine whether a home was structurally sound. A plan included spray painting a green “OK” on the curb in front of homes that were safe to inhabit or a red “NO” in front of homes with cracked foundations or other major flaws. Initially, homes were searched in a set pattern, starting with those homes most likely to be sound. But as the night grew long, addresses and keys were collected from victims waiting at the Campbelltown Fire Company, and their homes were ”certified.” That way, everyone who did not find lodging with family and friends would have an opportunity to reenter their homes. The next day, the Township engineer took over the duties of certifying the rest of the homes.
Looting was a concern, and State Police set up a command post at the entrance to the development. Their trailer/headquarters blocked one street, and they asked for identification at another street. Their presence also kept sightseers from jamming streets needed to move vehicles and equipment to remove debris and deliver supplies. Volunteers had to register at the Fire Company, and were bussed into the development.
In the aftermath, along with volunteers and non-profit agencies, the federal, State, County, and municipal government leaders worked side by side to facilitate food, clothing, shelter, and cleanup.
At the Emergency Operation Center in the Campbelltown Fire Company, I saw a cohesive team emerge. Based upon skill and knowledge, duties were assigned—Dan Kauffman on the logistics of water, dumpsters, and controlled burns. (The Department of Environmental Protection was consulted to allow dumping on Sunday.) Lieutenant Lacey was in command of the State, local, and fire police; Travis Haak on volunteer fire police; South Londonderry Township manager Rose Mary Kays on volunteers; Lebanon Emergency Management Association Coordinator was Mark Miller; and Jamie Woglemuth was our public affairs officer. Also, Shem Heller brought in mental health specialists to talk to frightened children and others.
South Londonderry Township Supervisors Dave Turner, Rugh Henderson, and Phil Rothermel as well as Commissioners Larry Stohler, Bill Carpenter, and Jo Ellen Litz quietly made decisions to declare emergencies and authorize spending to facilitate cleanup. So that clean wood and paper could be disposed of without hauling to the landfill, supervisors temporarily lifted burn bans, and controlled burns were authorized and tracked.
Since no one could be on duty twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, to avoid burnout, informal staggered shifts emerged. Initially, some key people were on vacation, which is why the Emergency Operation Plan, containing a chain of command, is important to both establish and keep current. In Lebanon County, that chain begins with the chair of the board of commissioners, followed by the vice chair, secretary, then county administrator.
Working with the United Way, to discuss unmet needs, a meeting of agencies was scheduled for a week and one half after the storm. PEMA representative Dan Enos, facilitated the meeting, and in addition to developing a list of unmet needs, participants reached a consensus to hold a Sunday service of celebration to hand-off the mid to long-term services to the local churches. By the way, Pastors were extremely thankful for the Assembly “Predatory Lending” brochures to distribute to victims of the tornado.
Along the way, we learned that we did not meet thresholds of 250 homes underinsured by forty percent to qualify for State emergency dollars. Nor did we sustain damage to one thousand homes to qualify for federal emergency assistance. So, funds were set up to collect donations for unmet needs like:
In summary, there was an immediate response to the natural disaster, and accurate information was disseminated. There was no speculation. The bipartisan presence of county commissioners, township supervisors, visits from elected officials—US Congressman Holden and Senators Santorum and Specter as well as State Senator Chip Brightbill and State Representative Mauree Gingrich; representatives of Governor Rendell’s office--from PEMA, the Insurance and Ag Departments, and State Police all provided a calming influence and an aura of authority through planned interaction by responding to inquires and treating everyone with respect, from victims to local and national news crews with their telescopic antennas lining the parking lot, as well as farmers who brought in freshly harvested corn-on-the-cob and businesses who donated cases of bottled water. It was an awesome experience, and all of the mandated training and drills paid off in the face this emergency.
If faced with a similar situation, the following "lessons learned" that may help your municipal operation to go smoothly.
Develop a “TO-GO” Box if there is a need to mobilize a command center. Start for contents: